I have just started getting into the meat of the book proposal I have written for myself about The Battle for the Bible, on how it is that Christians claimed that the Hebrew Scriptures belonged to them rather than the Jews, and how this is what ultimately led to Christian opposition to Judaism and the Jews who practiced it. As the argument unfolds, I hope it will make increasing sense! Here’s the next bit, dealing with how the process began.
As we saw in the previous post, Church Fathers in effect were arguing on two fronts, with Jews who did not see the virtues of an interpretation of the Bible that pointed to Jesus as the messiah and “heretics” who either overvalued Scripture , thinking its laws were still in force, or rejected altogether, claiming it was not a revelation of the true God.
Jesus’ Followers and the Jewish Scriptures
To understand these debates and their momentous historical consequences, we need to start at the beginning, with Jesus himself. Even though critical scholars of the New Testament disagree on numerous issues relating to the life and teachings of historical Jesus, they agree on one crucial point: Jesus was, if nothing else, a Jewish teacher thoroughly entrenched in, informed by, and committed to the Jewish culture of his day and, above all, the Jewish Scriptures. Jesus accepted the Torah as a revelation from God; he became a teacher of Scripture, quoted Scripture, and interpreted Scripture; he taught Then the worst of all things happened. Jesus made a final trip to Jerusalem at a Passover feast, possibly in order to take his message to the heart of the Jewish homeland. But rather than asserting his power and being crowned king, he was rejected, maligned, arrested, tried, and crucified. This is not what was supposed to happen to the messiah. It was the opposite of what would happen to the messiah. The messiah was to be a figure of grandeur and power who destroyed the enemy. In clear contrast, Jesus was squashed by the enemy, publicly humiliated and tortured to death. For the disciples, there could not have been a more catastrophic and definitive disconfirmation of their hopes. Jesus obviously was not the messiah.
But soon after his death, some of his disciples came to believe …
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